Dulce de leche (sweet made of milk) is a caramel sauce made with sweet milk and heavy cream. In this Dolce de leche recipe I’m using whey left over from cheese making and condensed with slow cooking to create the caramel. Whey contains most of the sugar found in milk, in the form of lactose. Therefore making dulce de leche from whey, after cheese making, is an economical and efficient use of your homestead milk. The final caramel sauce has a complex flavour that is reminiscent of salted caramels.
It requires patience as the whey is cooked very slowly much like maple syrup is cooked down from maple sap. It is reduced over low heat by 80%, while the lactose in the whey caramelises.
Use dulce de leche as a topping for ice cream, pour it over cheese cake, spoon it into pecan tarts or pour it over custard. Cook it a little longer and you will have fudge or toffee. Whey candy is a treat!
Dulce de leche recipe from whey
Makes: 2 to 3 cups
1 to 2 gallons of fresh whey left over from cheese making
1 cup of organic sugar
1 cup of heavy cream
2 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. vanilla (Homemade is best. Here’s my recipe)
In a slow cooker or Instant-Pot, simmer fresh whey over medium heat on the slow cooker setting. Leave the lid off the pot to encourage evaporation. There is no need to stir it at this point.
When the whey is reduced by half add the butter and the sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar and melt the butter. Continue heating over medium heat to evaporate more liquid. If milk solids precipitate in the whey, which can happen if the whey is on the acidic side, blend for a few minutes with an immersion blender when you add the sugar and butter. This will smooth out any graininess in the mixture.
When the whey is reduced by 70% add the heavy cream. Turn up the temperature on the slow cooker to high. (I used the sauté setting on the Instant-Pot™ on medium for this step.) Now stir constantly ensuring that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot nor burn. The mixture will darken to a russet brown colour and thicken.
Once the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove the pot from the heat. Stir for 5 minutes while the mixture cools. This smooths the caramel. Add the vanilla. Continue stirring. It is very hot so don’t taste test. Ouch. When it is cool enough to touch, pour into a glass wide-mouth jar. Keep refrigerated. The dulce de leche will keep for 2 months if kept refrigerated. Freeze it for longer storage.
More recipes to make from whey
This dulce de leche recipe is just one of several things that you can do with the whey leftover from cheesemaking.
Gjetost or mysost cheese are other cheeses made from leftover whey. Gjetost made from goat’s milk whey and mysost made from cows’ milk whey, are popular breakfast foods in Norway. There are caramel flavoured overtones in these unusual cheeses.
So before you pour out that whey on your garden, try these recipes for making delicious cheese and sweet dulce de leche from that whey that’s leftover from cheese making.
I’d love to hear your results. Let me know what you did with the whey you have leftover from cheese making.